Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday launched a programme for distributing new ration cards bearing his photograph and name, which the rival parties dubbed as a "cheap political gimmick" in view of the Assembly polls due next year.
He, however, sought to downplay the issue, saying it was important for people to know who was working for them.
"Under the National Food Security Act, 3.15 crore ration cards have been printed. The Act was implemented in the state on 1 March. Under it, those having 'Antyoday' cards will be given 35 kg food grains, while 'Grasthi' card holders will get 5 kg food grains per month," he said at the programme at his official residence.
"People may question why there is a photograph of the Chief Minister on the bag of ration or on the ration card. If we are helping the poor, there should be some publicity of it. It is important for people to know who is working for them," he said.
BJP and Congress denounced the SP government's move to put the Chief Minister's photograph on the new ration cards.
"The CM should not have put his photo on the ration cards. It has been done in view of the Assembly polls," Congress state unit Vice President Satyadev Tripathi said.
BJP said it was a Central government scheme. "Putting the Chief Minister's photo on ration cards is objectionable. It's a cheap publicity gimmick for political gains," party spokesman Harish Chandra Srivastava said.